Designing search – UX Strategies for eCommerce Success

by | Aug 4, 2011 | Intranets, Reviews, Search

One of the highlights of the Enterprise Search Summit 2011 was the presentation by Greg Nudelman on how to make effective use of search for ecommerce applications.  The challenges for smartphone use are considerable, and I suspect that most intranet managers have not fully appreciated the amount of innovation and development that will be needed to deliver intranet content to a mobile workforce.  This book covers both web sites and mobile platforms. A significant amount of the advice given by the author will be of direct benefit to intranet managers in considering how best to integrate searching and browsing through applications such as product catalogues.

The three sections of the book cover optimising ecommerce search results pages, designing ecommerce search interactions and finally the future of ecommerce search.  In all there are eighteen chapters, many of which include contributions, and in some cases complete chapters, by a roster of other expert authors, including Peter Morville and Louis Rosenfeld.  For some reason many of the contributions are printed on tinted backgrounds, making them difficult to read. In general the production values of the book are high, as they need to be to illustrate the many examples from current applications, though for some reason the gutter margins are too narrow to make reading a pleasure. Moreover the icons used to highlight pattern concepts, antipattern  concepts and important notes are quite distracting given that this is a book that will be read with care, and not dipped into to look for a particular template or user interface.  Having said that the index is excellent. Chapter 1 can be downloaded from the Design Caffeine site.

The level of expertise throughout the book is very high indeed, and I found much of interest in every chapter. However the writing style is quite dense, and the book would be improved considerably by a summary at the end of each chapter instead of a case study and/or a commentary by another author.  Overall I found it a difficult book to get into, and have bought a second copy to mark up sections that are of particular interest to intranet applications.

Despite these production criticisms this is an invaluable book on the subject of user-experience design.  Don’t let the e-commerce subtitle put you off. Given the rapid growth of smartphone use there will undoubtedly be others in the years ahead but in the meantime Greg Nudelman has set a benchmark on search UX design good practice that will take some beating.

There is a fascinating interview with the author in the July 2011 issue of UX Matters.

Martin White